One of the beauties of the Madden video game franchise is its consistency. The game comes out every year with updated rosters, a few new features to make you think it’s a completely different game, and the occasional graphics boost. The gameplay, though, remains remarkably the same. That consistency allows players that may not have played a certain version—or even picked up a Madden title in a few years—to quickly settle back into the game’s rhythm. (This is, of course, not counting the year the developers put in that stupid passing cone).
The reliability of controls is particularly useful if you have, perhaps, a younger nephew that is just learning the game and you want to step in over a holiday break and lay an old-school smack down on him. Not saying that happened, just that it could. The consistency of controls, though, does not translate to mobile devices. With the mobile interface, things need to be sleeker and more simplistic. There simply aren’t eight buttons, two joysticks, and a directional pad in order to make things happen.
If you look at the top selling iPhone games in December on Seeking Alpha you see an interesting trend: the games there were almost exclusively developed first for the mobile environment. Titles include Clash of Clans, Game of War, and Candy Crush Saga along with all of the Candy Crush spinoffs that people apparently play and spend money on. The one outlier is Madden NFL Mobile. It’s the only title that started its life on consoles. It also provides an important lesson that Electronic Arts has seemed to pick up on: mobile games are the future. In fact, they may soon be a bigger deal than console games.
Electronic Arts has been making games for nearly 30 years, but they’re a large console game developer/publisher, and many of their ilk have largely struggled to make quality mobile games. But where they struggle, others have picked up the slack. Gala Casino has long been one of the leaders in mobile online games, translating comic book and movie characters into exciting online games that fans of the movies can enjoy. And as a result, new developers have come on board to compete and make some of the most popular mobile games.
Angry Birds was maybe the first great mobile title and that came from Finnish computer game developer Rovio Entertainment. Their entire game lineup includes Angry Birds titles with the only other notable game being The Croods, which you probably saw ads for but never bought. It’s the same story with King Entertainment, which makes the Candy Crush games. The company was founded in 2003 and remained a relative unknown until Candy Crush became incredibly popular. Now, the entire company is just churning out different variations of the game.
As mentioned, large game makers like Electronic Arts have not fared as well, although that’s changing. Because of Madden, the company saw a 50 percent jump in mobile revenue over the previous year, according to Benzinga. With an improved gameplay interface, it’s maybe that the mobile version of Madden is taking off, someday to replace the console equivalent. Then, of course, it could also just be people want to play an NFL-licensed game under a title they know. Either way, it appears that the landscape of games is changing.